Harrogate’s residential property market has provided a safer bet over the last three years, than the glitzy London borough of Kensington and Chelsea, according to new research from The Search Partnership. As Britain’s housing market splits in two, with stronger activity in the north and more challenging conditions in the south, the analysis of Land Registry figures shows that Harrogate has provided a more consistent return since 2015.

The Search Partnership, which is based in North Yorkshire, has analysed the completed sales volumes and average prices achieved for Kensington and Chelsea where in 2011, 157,869 people lived, and compared them to figures for Harrogate, where in the same year 158,649 people lived.

Director Tom Robinson, from The Search Partnership, said: “Scrutinising these two areas, which have such similar population figures has provided some really interesting results. Over the last three years in the London borough, the average house price fell by 6% from £1.32m to £1.24m whilst in Harrogate it increased by 6% from £262,000 to £279,000. Sales volumes have also plummeted over the last three years in Kensington and Chelsea by nearly 30% from 2,178 to 1,557, whereas completed sales have actually increased in Harrogate.

“Put simply, if someone had £1m worth of property assets in Harrogate over the last three years, they would have seen more of a reliable increase in that investment, compared to
Kensington and Chelsea, which has suffered from much more exaggerated peaks and troughs. However, when you look at the data for the last nine years, Kensington and Chelsea has outperformed Harrogate overall, but the town still remains a safe bet when it comes to avoiding the highs and lows of the property market in the south.

“It’s fair to say that Harrogate is therefore continuing to prove itself as a reliable and secure place to buy property, and as the London property market falters and Yorkshire’s market stands firm, we are seeing more people from the south in particular, either wanting to relocate entirely to Yorkshire, or buying a second home here. So far this year 40% of our clients have been from London, with a significant number of those choosing to buy in Harrogate.”

Director Toby Milbank added: “Harrogate is such a resilient market and people know that if they invest in the popular spa town they won’t lose out. Even when the big crash of 2007 happened, it hit Harrogate later and prices recovered quicker. This is primarily due to the fact that it’s very much a sellers’ market – even in tougher times. Harrogate is sitting pretty because there is never a huge increase in the level of supply, so when good properties hit the market they are snapped up. Property overlooking The Stray or on the Duchy are particularly sound investments as they are just so desirable, and the low supply means that as soon as one comes onto the market buyers jump in fast.

“Harrogate has this superb combination of excellent state and public schools, a direct rail link to Leeds and beyond and it’s just a short drive into the North Yorkshire countryside, so its popularity is easy to understand and it often ranks high in the national ‘best’ or ‘happiest’ places to live listings. Another North Yorkshire property hotspot that has also performed well over the last three years is York. The average sale price for houses in York city is now £250,000, a little lower than Harrogate, but the transaction numbers are also strong and sale prices for the most popular areas of the city, especially along the river and in the recently completed residential developments are achieving record levels.

“York’s appeal lies right in the centre – whether it’s the riverside apartments or the opulent town houses, there is a little micro-climate in the city where professional people chose to locate, normally for the schools and the train line to London. Preferring to be right in the heart of the city, we have found houses and flats for buyers keen to avoid the often frustrating commute from villages on the outskirts of York.”
The Search Partnership’s findings reflect those of another recently released report from estate agency firm Savills, which shows that the North-South divide in house prices will narrow in the next five years as property values in northern England rise by a fifth. The report suggests that, the slowest price rises will be in London and the South East (9.3%) compared to a significant 20.5% increase in Yorkshire and the Humber.

Toby concluded: “London’s market is fuelled much more by International investment, and with Government talk of taxing foreign owners gaining pace, the impact on the property market is going to be much harder felt in the Capital. There’s not as much foreign residential investment in Harrogate or York, the market here is driven more by people moving around the County or up from the South. The implications of Brexit have undoubtedly added to the bleaker predictions for the South, which will of course affect the whole country, but Yorkshire is somewhat a step away from the frontline and it’s a case of business as usual for now.”